Brazil arrests eight Vale employees over mining dam disaster
Brazilian authorities arrested eight employees of mining giant Vale on Friday over a dam collapse at one of its mines three weeks ago that killed at least 166 people and left 147 missing, presumed dead.
Those apprehended — two executives, two managers and four members of teams that checked the stability of the collapsed dam — were being held to determine responsibility in relation to “hundreds of crimes of aggravated homicide,” the prosecutor’s office in the affected southeast state of Minas Gerais said in a statement.
It said they would be held in custody for 30 days. Police with warrants were also carrying out searches for evidence, including in Vale’s headquarters in Rio de Janeiro.
Information leading to the arrests and warrants came from statements to police by two engineers from a German firm, TUEV SUED, contracted by Vale to inspect and certify the dam.
The engineers were arrested four days after the dam’s collapse along with three Vale employees for questioning and were released a week later.
Four other TUEV SUED employees in Brazil were being sought by police.
The January 25 dam collapse is Brazil’s worst industrial disaster. The reservoir, holding millions of tons of tailings — mineral-laced mining waste — broke apart and washed over the Vale iron ore mine near the town of Brumadinho.
Most of those buried under its thick mud were mine workers, though some nearby residents were also engulfed.
Emergency crews continue to pick through the mud to look for bodies, but officials have said it was likely not all remains would be recovered.
Vale, the world’s biggest iron ore miner and one of Brazil’s biggest companies, lost a quarter of its market value after the disaster.
It insists that it observed all safety regulations regarding the dam. It dismisses reports that potential problems were detected before the disaster, saying they were addressed.
Its CEO, Fabio Schvartsman, said Thursday that Vale should not be punished over the disaster at its mine.
The company, he said, “is a Brazilian crown jewel that cannot be condemned for an accident that occurred in its dam, no matter how big the tragedy,” he told a Congressional committee.
The disaster was the second involving Vale in three years in the same region of Brazil, after a 2015 collapse of another tailings dam at a jointly owned mine that caused what is considered the country’s worst-ever environmental catastrophe.
This story was made possible thanks to The Tico Times 5 % Club. If only 5 percent our readers donated at least $2 a month, we’d have our operating costs covered and could focus on bringing you more original reporting from around Costa Rica. We work hard to keep our reporting independent and groundbreaking, but we can only do it with your help. Join The Tico Times 5% Club and help make stories like this one possible.
You may be interested
Death toll rises to 58 due to liquor adulterated with methanolThe Tico Times - January 20, 2021
At least 58 people have died since October in Costa Rica from the consumption of alcoholic beverages adulterated with methanol,…
Costa Rica not planning to require negative test for entryAlejandro Zúñiga - January 20, 2021
Costa Rica is not planning to require that tourists test negative for the coronavirus before entering the country. The Tourism…
Panama to receive reduced first batch of Pfizer vaccinesAFP - January 20, 2021
Panama on Wednesday will receive its first 12,840 doses of Pfizer's vaccine against Covid-19, a much smaller shipment than expected,…